Eagle has a big, blank canvas for a public art project
Town partnering with Alpine Lumber to create mural project as company plans new storage shed construction
EAGLE — Eagle’s latest high visibility public art project needs a few coordinating factors to come to life — a commercial remodel, a willing artist and a big, blank canvas.
Thanks to a partnership with Alpine Lumber and an outreach effort, it looks like those elements are coming together.
The project is both simple and audacious. The blank canvas for artistic expression sits at the highest traffic intersection in the community. Just south of the Eby Creek Road/Chambers Avenue roundabout, Alpine Lumber’s storage sheds back up to the roadway in a row that reaches all the way to the Union Pacific overpass.
According to Eagle Town Manager Brandy Reitter, the idea of improving the look of the shed structure has been circulating for several years. Citizens have proposed painting a mural on the buildings as a way to improve the view.
“But the shed structure is dilapidated and it just doesn’t look good. It has been deteriorating and it doesn’t help Alpine Lumber with what they want to do,” Reitter said. “Timing is actually perfect though because replacing that structure has been on Alpine Lumber’s improvements list.”
Free standing canvas
As Alpine looks to replace its shed storage area, the town took the opportunity to look at the mural suggestion. As Eagle started seriously considering an art installation, the town concluded that painting on the side of the sheds themselves wouldn’t be the best idea. Instead, the town is looking to set up two to three oversized, free-standing panels in front of the sheds. Reitter said when the town approached Alpine Lumber with the idea, the business was willing to partner with Eagle to make it happen.
“It’s not an easy undertaking and, of course, it is one someone else’s property and we want to be sensitive to that,” Reitter said. “We are still figuring out logistics and we will be running the two processes (Alpine’s new storage construction and the town’s art project) together.”
The idea is to nail down the specifications of the mural while the company completes its construction. Reitter said Alpine is still working on the details for its shed plan, but the company would like to proceed with construction in late 2019 or early 2020.
“I think their preference would be the sooner the better,” she said.
Two weeks ago, Eagle hosted the first planning meeting for the mural project.
“We had about 20 people show up to our kickoff,” Reitter said. “We have had quite a bit of interest and we are forming a steering committee for the artist selection process. We think that committee is already full. It was a very easy committee to fill. “
Reitter envisions a two-year process to select a theme for the mural, hire an artist and compile a budget for the project.
Suggested mural themes include everything from community history to wildlife to recreation options. Reitter believes the formal — two or three billboard-sized canvasses — is sparking artistic creatity.
“It’s going to be pretty cool, what people will be able to do with that,” she said.
Working with a project consultant, the town figures the cost for the mural project will be around $5,000 per panel, not including installation. The cost will include both materials and artist payment.
“We definitely want to pay the artist, because artists are creative entrepreneurs,” Reitter said.
The project funds will be requested as part of Eagle’s 2020 budget. For now, the next steps are to finalize the steering committee and develop the request for proposals from artists. In the months ahead, Reitter anticipates some spirited debate.
“Art is always in the eye of the beholder,” she noted.”We are really excited to see what people come back with.”
Ultimately, she sees the project as an attractive new entry to Eagle in an area that was previously pretty unattractive.
“It’s one of those dazzling, sparkly projects that you don’t get to work on very often,” Reitter said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Let the record show that at Friday’s grand opening of the Eagle River Park, they had to crank up the volume on the P.A. system because the river was roaring so loudly. “And that’s a good thing,” Eagle Mayor Anne McKibbin said.